World Wildlife Day Wisdom Series (2 of 8)Begin
The African wild dog is also known as the "painted dog" and "Cape hunting dog." Just like human fingerprints, no two dogs have the same markings on their coats, which can be a combination of red, black, brown, white, and yellow patches of fur.
African wild dogs have fewer toes on their feet. Unlike dogs and other canines - which have five toes on their forefeet - African wild dogs only have four toes per foot.
African wild dog packs are led by a dominant couple. The dominant couple will typically be the only members of the pack to mate, and will remain together for life. The entire pack of dogs will play a part in raising their pups, who will receive milk from other females (not just their mum)!
It's true! In fact, African wild dogs often give birth in the abandoned underground holes left by warthogs, porcupines, or aardvarks.
Though wild dogs are sometimes killed by other African predators, humans pose the greatest threat to their survival. Our actions have destroyed their habitats, affecting the availability of their prey, and making them more likely to come into contact and conflict with villagers and local communities.
Over 90% of African wild dog territory has been lost. This number is even more shocking when you consider just how much land a single pack of African wild dogs needs to thrive. For comparison, land the size of Greater London would be enough territory for only one or two packs.
All of the above are true! On a global scale, we need to cut down our emissions and consumption levels to preserve African wild dog habitat. On a local scale, on-ground work with local communities is needed (e.g. added infrastructure such as fencing and barriers around villages) to create more harmonious relationships with the wild dogs - as many are often killed in order to protect valuable livestock.
Today, there are as few as 6,000 wild dogs left in the wild - some estimates even go as low as 3000. Nearly half-a-million wild dogs once roamed the African savannah.
African wild dogs are not the only species at risk. Countless other animal and plant species depend on natural spaces to thrive yet are losing their habitats and the biodiversity within them at an alarming and unprecedented rate. Add your voice to call on world leaders to take urgent action to protect and restore nature.